They’ve been rooting for each other since the day they were born within minutes of each other 17 years ago.
Now, after playing football together since they were young, twins Paul and Justin Guidry will be teammates one last time in the biggest game of their lives when No. 3 Notre Dame (13-0) faces No. 1 Riverside Academy (11-1) in Friday’s Division III state championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 1:30 p.m.
“It’s been a pleasure,” said Justin, the team’s starting fullback. “It all started in Pee-Wee football, then to middle school and now it’s down to the last game. We’ve talked about it all the time and the good times we’ve had.”
There’s no distinct features that make for obvious links between the two.
Justin’s 5-foot-9 and weighs 205 pounds. Until this season, he served as a reserve fullback.
Paul — a 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle — is built more in the mold of his father, Paul Sr., a former national powerlifting champion and football player at Rayne High for current Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook.
Paul, like his brother, had to wait his turn behind a veteran defensive line before cracking the Pioneers’ starting lineup, where he’s made a significant impact on this year’s defense.
“Notre Dame values their seniors. They’re the most experienced players on the field,” Paul said. “I really knew the game. That’s why I’m able to play this year and execute.”
Cook attributes the transformation the Guidry twins made this season to their willingness to put in the time during the offseason.
“They’re hard workers,” Cook said. “They don’t miss any workouts, do everything asked of them and have learned the system. We knew they had a chance to be good, and they haven’t disappointed anybody.”
Aside from working at school, Justin said he and Paul also lifted weights in a shop built by their father that sits in their backyard. He said his father also constructed a sled the two brothers pulled around the backyard with a rope.
“We’re not going to health clubs,” Justin said. “We did a lot of running at home as well.”
Both Guidrys have been essential to the respective strengths of Notre Dame’s success this season — a tough running game and physical defense.
Despite missing three games with an injury, Justin Guidry rushed 38 times for 321 yards (8.4 yards per carry) and four TDs. He had a memorable 80-yard score as part of a season-high 112-yard effort in a 20-0 win over Breaux Bridge.
“It’s once in a blue moon that we have a guy that can go 80 yards against Breaux Bridge,” Cook said.
Guidry, who has shared time with Sam Hoffpauir, has primarily served as the lead blocker for a running game that’s averaged 249 yards per game.
“A lot of schools have gotten rid of the fullback, so I’m thankful for it,” Justin said. “It’s a big responsibility. I’ve stayed humble, did what I was taught and go out on Friday and execute.”
Paul Guidry has been a mainstay in a defense that’s registered eight shutouts and allows 94.8 yards per outing.
Guidry’s the team’s second-leading tackler with 69 tackles with 17 quarterback hurries, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles. He equaled his season-high with nine tackles and had 3.5 tackles for loss in last week’s 33-0 semifinal win over St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I really want to win a state championship, and to have it be with my brother would be even better,” Paul said. “It’s our last year playing together. It would be great to win a state championship and be on the same team as my brother.”